Sunday, June 2, 2013

Minor Arcana: Two

Two: the other

Two-ness in the Minor Arcana cards of Tarot is not just about two items or things. It is mostly about polarities and dualism. We are confronted daily by an array of colossal forms of opposition. The most obvious and immediate concerns are seen in the futuristic optimism of a desire for peace, but opposed by the never-ending condition of violence and war.

Numeral 2 means 2 separate units, an alternative to numeral one in the form of something different. There are 2 ways at looking at two-ness: (1) a reflection of the One, or (2) an opposition to the One. Then we have polarities that are opposites, or counterfeits such as: good versus evil; active, passive; light, dark; spirit, matter; mind, body; strong, weak; right, wrong; positive, negative; male, female; yin, yang; life, death; war, peace; love, hate; and so on.

In these times, we would like to think that nowadays nothing is set in concrete. So we’ll start out by examining, in human terms, the profound tension between “I” and “Thou,” which is exemplified by the struggle between oneself and the other. Keep in mind that for some, there are still a few absolute truths. When we dip into early philosophical and religious beliefs, we can trace the beginning of the polarities of dualism and its influence on us today, especially since Tarot in general seems to be an outgrowth of those beliefs. For instance, The Magician symbolizes one who has the power to influence events. In absolutist metaphysics, Plato envisioned that ideal Forms such as Good, Beauty, God, and Truth, were unchanging. There was no room for something contradictory. There was only the infinite One, Good, or the Mind of the universe, everything else was an imperfect, transitory, or relative imitation of it.

Harvard scholar, Annemarie Schimmel, talks about Manichaeism (Gnostic beliefs) where the good is spiritual and the bad is evil, “…hence the soul had to strive to escape the evil material person of this world and this body” (The Mystery of Numbers, Oxford Press, 1993, p.51). She points out that this became a major underlying influence in the philosophy of the early Christian Church, and still persists in such “black and white” thinking today.

In biblical interpretations of the first chapter of Genesis – there was only one God and everything in creation was good. As the story goes, metaphorically, Adam was the first man (the other) and then along came Eve who was eve’n another. But Adam was supposed to be in the image and likeness of God, yet it seems something happened, as the struggles in the second chapter appear to be a contradiction to the first. Adam and Eve discovered themselves as separate entities other than the One, and therefore, they were banished from the Garden of Eden, and things got even worse for their sons when Cain killed Abel. This is aptly portrayed by William Blake. Thereafter, supposedly all of mankind’s troubles began. An entire religious dogma of hatred for the material body arose out of this saga. In early religions, such as Zoroastrianism, Ahura Mazda (the good God) was contradicted by Ahriman (the bad god). In Goethe’s “Faust,” the demon or devil, “…Mephistopheles is the spirit who denies, protests and above all, halts the flux of life and prevents things from being done” (Mircea Eliade, The Two and the One (HarperCollins, 1965, p. 79).

Author, Susan Griffin, in a lecture at the University of Washington several years ago, talked about the “Nazi Death Cults” of World War II and how self-hatred on a grand scale has produced a state of suicidal self-destruct in the denial of human feeling, exemplified by nuclear war. We see how this is still being acted out today in the extreme violence of warring factions and opposing forces all over the world.

So what is the meaning of the 2 cards in Tarot? Numeral 2 can be interpreted according to the connotations of the four suits: Wands (Fire, growth, spirituality) Cups (Water, feelings, psychology) Swords (Air, thoughts, systems) and Pentacles or Coins (Earth, materiality, everyday goings on). In most situations there are always two possibilities, some positive, some negative, depending on the position of the card: upright or reversed. Two-ness always indicates we have a choice to make. Which will we choose?

2 of Wands – Choosing to grow from experience when unforeseen obstacles appear that impel us to choose the right path or, on the other hand, tempt us to go the wrong way which might result in failure and ruination.

2 of cups - Choosing to be joined in love, romance, and feeling good about it, or to enter a love/hate relationship filled with rejection and disappointment, and always feeling emotionally drained.

2 of Swords – Choosing to think things through carefully, while making plans for positive change or, stumbling into unrecognized pitfalls based upon a lack of judgment.

2 of Pentacles or Coins - Choosing to make good decisions in investments, choice of partner, and being frugal in spending and saving or, choosing the wrong person, making bad investments; being greedy and exploitive.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tarot Minor Arcana

And a One and a Two!

ONE—“I AM THAT IAM! (Exodus 3:14) What a more profound way to state your identity in the universe! “Hello, this is the Cosmic Mind of the Universe speaking.” To talk about the numeral ONE brings up many levels of contemplation. It’s not about counting dollars in your “counting house,” but more about the nature of numeral ONE in a metaphysical sense. So how should we think about one, or oneness, in a deck of Tarot cards? The dictionary defines an ace as “a single point on a card,” and also as “one who excels.” Here are some of the usual meanings implied by numeral one:

1. One is undivided. It is unity in a state of wholeness.

2. A state of oneness. It is “I” alone. One Self and no other.

3. It is the unity of oneness. Everything is part of the ONE.

4. A singleness of purpose

5. A beginning

6. The first, or something new

7. Manifesting

8. The one Being

Michael Talbot wrote of a Hindu myth about the Self of the Universe who perceives existence as a form of play: “It assumes a kaleidoscope of faces and facades—a dazzling infinity of masks and forms until it becomes the living substance of the entire universe…it is the one and eternal Self of the cosmos.” (Mysticism and the New Physics, Bantam 1981, p. 160)

What does ONE mean in relation to the ACES in Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness?

ACE of Wands (Fire)
It symbolizes the primary creative impulsion to begin growing, and coming into being. It is the yearning to establish one’s identity. “Who am I?” It is the beginning of consciousness and all things new in the realm of day to day experience. In a metaphysical sense, numeral one signifies the start of a journey to find your spiritual Self-hood or soul. Here you affirm your oneness with the Universe and your place in it. The Ace of Wands in Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness is depicted as a magic wand with the fire of Light at both ends. It represents drawing down fiery energy from above and sending out a fiery energy below in an endless cycle of wholeness.

ACE of Cups (Water)
This represents getting in touch with your feelings or sensing how somebody else feels. It means dealing with emotional interactions and, the inner concerns you may have in learning how to get along with others, which includes gaining new insights into dealing with worry, fear, anger, love, passion, and compassion. It’s important to pay attention to your intuition and feelings in knowing if a situation is right or not. You are dealing with issues of feeling a sense of security, finding emotional and spiritual contentment, and being productive through useful and fruitful endeavors. The Ace of Cups in Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness is depicted as a huge cup of spiritual elixir supported by rainbows, signifying hope.

ACE of Swords (Air)
Here, this means you can experience clarity of thought and have a penetrating awareness of the motives of your companions and colleagues. This presents an opportunity to bring new inventive ideas into being. You can formulate brilliant plans and better yet, you are able to communicate your thoughts to others. You have a desire to get to the truth of the matter and can dig deep to find the cause of troubling problems. It is an affirmation of expecting and experiencing justice in being able to discern the difference between good and evil. The sword of the Ace in Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness is centered between dark and light values, indicating one’s skill in separating the reality of truth from the unreality of lies.

ACE of Pentacles (Earth)
This is the potential for you to be involved in earthly, practical manifestations such as planting seeds, and experiencing abundance in growing gardens and harvesting produce; building a house; or following though on a job. It points to having a sense of self-worth that includes monetary, as well as psychological and philosophical values. Hard work leads to material success and generates significant rewards and compensation. The Ace of Pentacles in Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness is colored in earth tones and includes an illustration of a sphere containing a centered pentagon, signifying the oneness of all things working together.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Tarot Minor Arcana

A Bean Sprout, Numbers, and the Minor Arcana

What does a bean sprout have in common with a Tarot deck? — Time!
We can think of the Minor Arcana cards as the time-keepers of our lives. They can be aligned with the four changing seasons of earth’s yearly cycle around the sun, and we can apply the implications of their meaning to our daily lives. How do we associate that with the Tarot? First, we see there are four suits: Wands (Fire), Cups (Water), Swords (Air) and Pentacles (Earth) which represent earth’s seasonal changes in general. Each suit consists of 10 numbered cards, plus four court cards: Page, Knight, Queen and King. The numbered cards are not about quantitative functions, but instead, have metaphysical meaning in Tarot. Various interpretations describe the cards as representing processes of change and growth in situations that can be correlated with a person’s life. My teacher, Gail Fairfield, views the Minor Arcana in developmental cycles: “Within the fourteen cards of each suit, there are four cycles of three… a conceptual level 1,2,3; actualized level 4,5,6; expanded level 7,8,9; a transitional level 10; and a fulfilled level P, K, Q, K.” (Choice Centered Tarot, Ramp Creek Publishing, 1990, p. 30)

For a quick overview for finding meaning in the cards, I’ll use a bean sprout as a metaphor for the states and stages of life-processes that are implied in the Tarot. A study of the Tarot Minor Arcana can reveal the underlying universal laws and patterns manifest in our earthly existence. I like how the author, Arthur Young, discusses the process of fourfold development in his book, The Geometry of Meaning (Delacorte Press, 1976). He says, “Spring is the time of physical acceleration…Summer is the time of physical change…Autumn…is the time of mental stimulus” and “…Winter the time when growth has ceased” (p. 118).

In SPRING, the ground is prepared, but empty, (Zero 0, the number of the Fool). [Think of TV’s Mr. Bean] No thing is happening, yet it is full of unbelievable possibilities. One (1) the seed planted in the ground represents a beginning. It is motivated to start the miraculous life-building process—it germinates. (Aces) For us, it’s beginning to conceive an idea; to create something new; a time to start a new endeavor. Two (2) by mirroring some mysterious life-DNA-blueprint within the seed, it begins to establish itself as a new life and becomes something—a “bean sprout.” It sprouts 2 leaves, which are initially nourished by the seed. This action resembles the same process for us as we begin to establish our own unique identity (number 2 cards). Three (3) the bean plant flourishes in stage three with more leaves and its sweet flowers bloom. It is an expression of creative powers and unification of purpose. We synthesize our growth, plan our strategies, and are learning to adapt to a changing world by working together (number 3 cards).

Four (4) in SUMMER, the growth of the plant increases; it matures, and pollination takes place. We explore how to manifest our dreams, ambitions, and plans. We find stability and learn to structure our lives by stepping out of the box (number 4 cards). Five (5) in mid-summer, bugs and disease attempt to attack the plant and, its resilience is tested. It persists in fulfilling its mission. Now, we face our own challenges and confrontations. We take our chances in learning how to deal with opposition, arguments and the unexpected (number 5 cards). Six (6) the plant reaches the apex of perfection and beauty, producing an abundance of graceful bean pods. We strive to find balance and harmony in our lives, and count our blessings, and savor our successes (number 6 cards).

FALL, Seven (7) an entire cycle is complete and the harvest is on. The bean plant is ripe and fulfilling its creative function by continuing to replenish its kind. We bask in a sense of victory and accomplishment in having achieved our aspirations. We have subdued the opposing forces (number 7 cards). Eight (8) from the stems of the plant, the bean pods snap open releasing the seeds within, which drop and fall where they may. We have an opportunity to begin again at a new level; to re-invent ourselves and go in a new direction; a send off to new events and new possibilities (number 8 cards). Nine (9) the new bean seeds make their way back into the earth and wait for the moment to begin the cycle again. We have integrated all our lessons and are learning a new way of thinking and being. We take on a new attitude of well being (number 9 cards).

WINTER, Ten (10) the bean plant enters a transitory state of dormancy, even torpidity. Its function has been fulfilled and accomplished, which was to live and grow and replenish its form. It is the end of a cycle and everything is complete, yet there is a promise of renewal again in the spring. We are in a state of transition into the unknown. We have accomplished our goals and can now rest at the end of a cycle and reminisce on rich memories of the events in our lives (number 10 cards). [The next segment will continue with the court cards.]